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November 12, 2012
Opinion: Red Bulls should keep many players, but can dump Marquez, Miller, Tainio, Le Toux

Rafa Marquez should be a goner, even if the Red Bulls have to eat his salary.
Rafa Marquez should be a goner, even if the Red Bulls have to eat his salary.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Kristian R. Dyer Contributing Editor

Another season, another Red Bulls collapse and most likely, another rebuilding year for a franchise in constant flux. With sporting director Erik Soler and coach Hans Backe gone, the stability of the last three seasons is now in turmoil again and a roster shakeup seems once again likely. takes a look at the roster in our “Who Should Stay and Who Should Go Now.”

The roster doesn’t need a radical overhaul, just some tweaks here or there. The spine of the team is rather solid and probably the best since the Bob Bradley era, but the new management under Andy Roxburgh and Jerome de Bontin must be careful to fight the impulse to blow this thing up.

The Stays:

GK: Ryan Meara – Until he went down with a season-ending injury, Meara was a front-runner for MLS rookie of the year honors. Steady in the goal, solid with distribution, the Fordham product had his rookie ups and downs but played with a veteran’s poise. He could be tantalizing trade bait and with the Irish set-up interested in his services, could a move to Europe and a possible allocation in return be in the works? Possibly.

GK: Luis Robles – Have to like what the late summer acquisition of Robles brought to the team and he was more than solid in filling in for Meara and Bill Gaudette when they went down with injuries. He was steady and decisive and a calming presence in the backline. Based off his late season showings including the playoffs, he looks like the No. 1 heading into next season. This type of play could earn him another U.S. National Team call-up.

D: Connor Lade – With energy and passion and good tactical acumen for such a young player, the rookie season transition for Lade had but a few bumps. He pushes forward well and is aggressive in his man-marking and no one on the field fights more than Lade. Have to like how he’s smart on the ball and off it. He should have a very bright future in MLS for years to come.

D: Markus Holgersson – After a rocky start to his league play, Holgersson has settled in nicely to MLS and the heart of the Red Bulls defense. Rarely with a gaffe, he was strong in the air, helped on set pieces and had outstanding positioning. He has to be a lock for next year.

D: Heath Pearce – For a team with so few Americans contributing, Pearce is the role model for the kind of player the Red Bulls need to succeed in MLS. Good distribution out of the backline and an ability to play either center back pairing or left back slot means he brings versatility. Delivers a nice ball out of the back and adds to possession. Perhaps a bit costly but still brings so much to the table including a good locker room presence.

D: Jonathan Borrajo – Only featured once in league play but Borrajo still has a future. Has good wheels and an excellent work rate in training. Can develop into a nice player in this league, just needs time.

D: Brandon Barklage – In his first season at right back, Barklage looked like he could develop into an all-star caliber player at the position. He wins his individual battles and strikes a nice ball moving forward. Must be considered among the core of this team and he is still young and relatively cheap, an added bonus.

M: Dax McCarty – Brings so much to the side beyond his acclaimed work rate and he is the prototypical, box-to-box midfielder. Attacks well, fights even better and just hitting his prime. A fan favorite, he must return.

M: Lloyd Sam – Played in a handful of matches but Sam showed tremendous speed and confidence on the ball from the right wing, something lacking on this team. He lacks the pure speed of Dane Richards but is more confident on the dribble and moving forward. Despite his moderate cap hit, he has the potential to be a long-term contributor in New York.

M: Tim Cahill – The designated player doesn’t put up gaudy numbers but his work rate and ability to spread the ball makes him an ideal fit in the Red Bulls midfield. He adds so much poise to the team and also sprinkles in some good aerial strength.

M: Joel Lindpere – There was some disappointment surrounding Lindpere this year after two productive years in New York led to a contract extension last offseason. What Lindpere brings is more fight to the midfield and the ability to hit a long shot. Whether centrally or on the wing, he’s a good fit for the team and the new coach might want to explore using him in more of a holding role.

M: Victor Palsson – On loan in the Netherlands, Palsson is getting regular minutes and showing well. His game needs some fine tuning, in particular his distribution and the timing of his movement forward but he’s young and hungry. Should consider being brought back as young central midfielders are never an easy find in MLS but only if he is willing to fight for a slot.

F: Kenny Cooper – A fresh start is what Cooper needs, even after 18 goals this past season. Cooper’s style seemed to clash with Backe and the team’s star, Thierry Henry, but there isn’t a hard worker on the team. Like Pearce and McCarty above, he’s an American face on the team and it is hard to ignore his productivity. He must be brought back.

F: Thierry Henry – Does he want to come back after what is a third year of crashing and burning? Henry is still a magician on the ball and seems to be embracing MLS more and more as his knowledge of the league continues to grow.

F: Jhonny Arteaga – From training, it is clear that Arteaga has potential and with a new coach and a fresh slate, he could develop into a substitute role with the team. At the price and his age, he’s worth keeping around.

F: Corey Hertzog – The team’s first round pick two years ago, he is coming off a second division loan spell where he scored by the bushel. In training, he always finds the back of the net and could be another player to benefit from a new start.

The Maybes:

GK: Jeremy Vuolo – Watching him develop in training, Vuolo is slowly acclimating to the league. He would benefit from another season in MLS as an affordable No. 3 goalkeeper.

GK: Bill Gaudette – More than capable when Meara went down in the summer, Gaudette has tremendous reflexes and a strong presence in the locker room. But age makes him less attractive than Robles or Meara and he might be caught in a numbers crunch.

D: Wilman Conde – An arrest earlier in the year and struggles with injuries derailed his season but when he was on the field, Conde was certainly solid and fit into the Red Bulls possession scheme. But he will be 31-years-old by next April and it might be time to cut ways with him and open more cap space.

D: Stephen Keel – After showing so well last year, Keel became a bit player with the Red Bulls this year. Still hard-working, he should be given the shot to fight for a spot behind Holgersson and Pearce.

D: Tyler Ruthven – Like Keel, Ruthven should be given a chance to earn his spot on the team this offseason. He is solid as a defender and a smart player who could benefit from some loan time next year.

F: Jose Angulo – Like Arteaga, there is potential here for the young forward but he needs to be more dynamic in training and less passive to earn a spot.

On the Outs:

D: Rafa Marquez – It might be impossible to move Marquez due to his bloated salary but RBNY should be looking to dump him. They need to open the designated player slot but also rid themselves of the headache he brings on and off the field. The experiment hasn’t worked, a surprise to anyone who watched Marquez at Barcelona or with the Mexican national team for so many years.

D: Roy Miller – In his third season in MLS, Miller has regressed and just isn’t starting caliber anymore. His defending is woeful and he moves into the attack in effective spurts.

D: Digao – The brother of Kaka is surely a nice guy and seems affable enough but he isn’t a soccer player, at least not at the MLS level.

M: Teemu Tainio – Injuries and age have caught up to the Finnish midfielder, who should only come back at a reduced rate -- a severely reduced rate.

F: Sebastian LeToux – The trade for LeToux just didn’t work out but he might have some value for another MLS team if he doesn't try out Europe. He wasn’t the forward that the Red Bulls needed and the stint on the wing was a disaster. Maybe RBNY can recoup a draft pick for him.
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